There is an ever more urgent preoccupation with complex and controversial environmental issues. How might we understand ideas of place in a time of accelerating environmental change? How could we work together to respond? Do artists and poets have anything to show us about the potential of collaboration?
Between 6th and 29th September 2017 SIA and Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, U.K. hosted In The Open: collaborative artworks around place, landscape and environment, an exhibition of work by over 60 artists from around the world curated by Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo. This photo essay reflects some of the work and energy of this show. This overlapped with the ASLE-UKI & Land2 Conference 2017: Cross Multi Inter Trans conference and included readings and performances in the gallery spaces.
All the work in this two-venue exhibition was made by at least two collaborators across a wide range of disciplines to explore ideas around place, ecology and environment. Some of the work was made by established collaborative pairs, for example: Thomas A Clark and Diane Howse, Kevin Greenfield and Inge Panneels, Andrea Thoma and Deborah Gardner, Judith Tucker and Harriet Tarlo. Other works in the exhibition resulted from the curators inviting expressions of interest from artists and poets eighteen months in advance and then acting as brokers and pairing people up. Dan Eltringham and David Walker Barker, Laura-Gray Street and Anne-Marie Creamer, Barbary Howey and Ann Fisher-Wirth, Rebecca Thomas and Elizabeth-Jane Burnett all made new work in this way.
The resulting exhibition included art and text in a wide variety of media and scale, including artists’ books, paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations and moving image. The artists had taken their points of departure from many locations: Los Angeles to Malta, from Ilkley Moor to the Mississippi Delta, from Langsett to Singapore. All kinds of fieldwork had taken place with artists and poets exploring meadows, fields, disused canals, deserted quarries, high cliffs, coasts, seas, parks, orchards, forests, bogs, street signs, city walls and industrial buildings. Their work took audiences on journeys along rivers from tiny streams to expansive deltas, from places as high as Snowdon to deep underground in an abandoned mine. Others conflate real and imagined places, working simultaneously with possible past, present and futures. The works reflect, resist and critique the long traditions and aesthetics of landscape art and writing, reinterpreting, in a contemporary idiom, notions of the romantic, picturesque and gothic. Others are more speculative and ruminate on wider issues of social and environmental change and offer possible future propositions. Whilst there was inevitably consideration of environmental degradation, as a whole the exhibition was not elegiac and the slow looking, the slow making, the slow writing and a deep concern with particularity of place seems to offer a sense of hopeful new/old ways of being in the world.
Click on the images below to see a larger image.
11. From Longdendale Lights to Shining Clough, words by Laura-Gray Street and moving image by Anne-Marie Creamer, 2017
12. Read These Leaves animation by Bethan Hughes, words by Caitlin Stobie, 2017
15. Bal na vodi (Dancing in Water), music by Barry Snaith, moving image by Eirini Boukla, 2017
21. Recycled Gardens words by Peter Jaeger and images by Josh Scammell 2017